Pinterest – Implications for Search Marketers


Pinterest is a fast growing social network of online pinboards used to find, share, and organize content from around the web. Despite tremendous competition in the social network arena, Pinterest has achieved phenomenal growth in the last few months reaching over 11MM unique monthly visitors as of January 2012 (1), and is expected to continue this trend. With a highly visual user interface and ease in interaction for both users and brands, marketers have a new tool in their arsenal for social engagement. With an innate focus on external content and products, Pinterest is a valuable addition to a well-rounded social media strategy.

Referral traffic has grown significantly as well, sending more visitors to external websites than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined (2). The following is a sample of client data which demonstrates how referral growth from Pinterest has behaved in the past few months.

With this growth and demonstrated success as well as link building benefits, Resolution Media views Pinterest as a valuable resource for brands to enhance their search and social optimizations.

Current Invitation Limitations

Pinterest is currently in BETA and is “invite only”. Users can request an invite on the site, or ask a friend currently using Pinterest to invite them. This is expected to open up as the network grows. As well, as with many other networks this may include an option for brands to create business centers.

How it Works

Pinterest has a number of features which makes it unique from other social sharing platforms.

  • Pins & Boards – Pins are the method used to share images or videos with your audience. With the pin is a link to original content which keeps the referring source intact for more referral traffic. Pins are assigned to Boards, or a collection of pins categorized with a themed title by the user.

Users can also like, “re-pin” and comment on any pin from other users which will additionally share it across the platform while keeping the original source intact and driving valuable traffic.

  • Audience Segmentation – Like Twitter, users can follow anyone. Where it has improved twitters design is that users have the option to follow all of another user’s boards, or just select the ones based on their interests.
  • SEO and link building – Engaged audiences who discover content that is in-line with their interests are more likely to share it, which will have powerful link building benefits. Additionally, there is new opportunity to discover who your expanded audience is and engage further with them.

These new features may be similar to other platforms, but what makes them unique is their lasting benefit for marketers.

Pins & Boards

The core of Pinterest functionality lies in Pins and Boards. Users build up their own collection by finding pins already on Pinterest and Re-Pinning them, or by adding new Pins from external sources across the web.

Similar to other methods of sharing information, such as Facebook Shares and Likes, users will identify information that interests them and share with their networks.

Resolution POV: Though Pinterest follows the Facebook model by allowing Likes and Comments on Pins, the Pins & Boards functionality is unique to Pinterest and has added benefits for marketers. The organization of Pins into Boards allows for two noteworthy outcomes:

  1. Contextualization: Users on Pinterest do not simply “Like” content without intent. The ability to Pin and Re-Pin content onto themed Boards means users are segmenting themselves into categories.
  2. Retention: Pins & Boards act as a visual bookmark, whether it is for inspiration or for a reminder in the future. This can be seen frequently with recipes or DIY projects. By users retaining the content they enjoy through social bookmarking, there is a significant opportunity for marketers to promote content that has more staying power in comparison to Facebook, Twitter & Google+.

Audience Segmentation

Pinterest differs from other social networks in that users can select specific boards they want to follow as opposed to an entire user’s content.

Resolution POV: While currently marketers cannot identify individual user per board, the potential to capture this data has added implications for demographic tracking and honing in on a highly engaged audiences. This segmentation is unique to Pinterest and as it evolves this may offer valuable insights for brands to better understand their audiences.

SEO and Link Building

As a social bookmarking site, Pinterest relies heavily upon already existing content on the web. Pinterest also provides a Pin-It Bookmarklet, which allows users to Pin images or videos directly from the web page they are browsing onto Pinterest to drive additional referrals.

Pinterest gained buzz throughout the SEO community as the first global social network to use ‘DoFollow’ links, this has since changed, and all links from Pinterest are ‘NoFollow’ and do not pass any link building benefits.

Resolution POV: Pinterest is useful for driving traffic to external websites, with referral traffic that already is surpassing that of Google+.

Though Pinterest may not provide traditional SEO link building benefits, the impact of Social SEO will prove to enhance link building efforts in the immediate and extended future.

As well, it is a powerful way to identify new audiences that are already sharing your content. This will lead to further engagement, relationship building, and positive brand sentiment.

The Future of Pinterest

As Pinterest gains users and visits, the pages on the site are expected to gain authority. The page authority may or may not help in linking efforts, but it is important for marketers to consider the potential benefits of ranking in SERPs. Keyword usage in Pins and Boards is a recommended tactic for increasing rankings of the Pinterest page within the SERP. Social engagement should remain at the forefront of efforts, as the traffic this drives will provide the most benefits in the long run. Resolution sees tremendous potential around interest based demographics and as Pinterest continues to evolve and mature, it will likely create brand pages that will incorporate much of the valuable interest based demographic information that they have already begun to collect.

For more information, visit the resources below:

  1. Pinterest reaches 11MM unique monthly visitors as of January 2012
  2. Pinterest Driving More Referral Traffic Than Google+, Youtube, and LinkedIn Combined
  3. How “Pinnable” Is Your Content?
  4. Mashable: 5 Ways Brands Can Use Pinterest to Boost Consumer Engagement